I just want to acknowledge before I go any further, that this is really hard. Most parents didn’t sign up to homeschool their kids through a worldwide pandemic, and cook every meal, and also manage their full-time job at home. Oh, and you can’t really get away from it all.
So I am going to share some tips that have worked for my family and some of our friends. Some will work for your family, some will not. Feel free to try 1 or 2 things. And I’ll post all of this on my website tomorrow, in case you want to go back and look at something. And I figure if we have to do this anyway, we might as well have some fun!
Prepare ahead - Taking 15 to 30 min Sunday evening and the night before can be so helpful. This is the time when you figure out: What can your kids do on their own? What do they need your help doing? Make a list for each child with subjects divided between things they can do on their own clearly marked. The younger the kid, the simpler the list. Most kids just want to know when they are done, so having a list helps them to check off items.
Chores - have them help with chores, even after the complaining they will feel more responsible and more like a contributor to your family
Provide a list and they chose numbers to see who goes first, each one can pick an item and keep cycling through until all the chores are picked.
Zone your house and assign a child to the zone and alternate zones every day or once a week.
Set the timer for 15 min and GO! They had to pick up and put away anything that was out of place. If you made anything a game, my kids were all in. (personal favorite!)
Junk Drawer (match lids and plastic containers) great for sorting and organization skills
Pull weeds for 15 min a day. Make sure they know which ones are the weeds!
Let them know that this is hard and you all have to pull together as a team to get through this.
Give everyone their list and box/basket of books.
When school is done, put the books away.
What can you do together as a family?
Read aloud at lunch
play an audio book
It is so important to break for exercise and make sure to take time for breaks.
(I like to just power through a good 2 hours of school, but it doesn’t benefit my children...Warning, set a timer for your break! Otherwise, it is hard to wrangle them all back!)
Walk the dog - even on rainy days inside the house!
Ride bikes, scooters, etc.
Play soccer, basketball, football, baseball, etc
Chalk the driveway with exercises - set the timer for 30 seconds and rotate every time the timer goes off (9 exercises 3 arms, 3 legs, 3 core). Go around 3 times or less.
Snacks, snacks and more snacks
My kids were eating constantly, so we had to set a scheduled snack time (I chose 10am and 3pm).
Basics in reading and math that they have to learn that can get kind of boring for everyone.
color letters on printed coloring pages
chalk letters on the driveway
write letters in shaving cream on a cookie sheet
write letters in rice
Phonograms (letter sounds)
Play tic tac toe with 9 cards at a time.
Say the sound, if the child gets it right, they get to pick up the letter and put an “X”. Then they say a sound. If the other person gets it right, they get to pick up the letter and put down an “O”. Try to get tic tac toe. Play 4 rounds to go over all the letters.
Make a trail of cards with letters on them and hop to the next letter, saying the sound.
Cakewalk Math game (see earlier post)
Hopscotch to the correct answer (You can make it up to 50, if you want to!)
Have an older child show flashcards to a younger child
Scrabble tiles or Bananagram tiles
Change where you have school - outside, different room
Explain what needs to get done (chores, schoolwork, your job, etc.)
Brainstorm what would they like to do for fun, within the limits of what you can do
Give them a list or a block calendar - the younger, the more simple - even pictures will work for preschoolers
Mark or highlight the items that must be done first - math
Let them know what things they can decide on the order
Do they want to get ahead? Let them get started the night before.
Do they get up early? Try to get up a get going with your early birds
The most important things are probably math and reading, so focus on those first and see what happens for the rest of the day.
Pause and take a break... Remember that you are all on the same team, that this is really hard for them too, and that you love and need each other. Apologize and start over, even if it is tomorrow. Keep going...you can do this!
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